Tableau – Salesforce Integration

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In this blog post we will see how we can connect a Tableau workbook to our Salesforce environment in order to retrieve real time data from our hosted database. Note that this connector is going to work both for standard or custom cloud-based solutions using the Force.com platform.

The process steps to follow are:

  1. Select the Salesforce connector
  2. Enter the connection details
  3. Choose and define the connection type to extract data
    1. Standard
    2. Single Table
    3. Multiple Tables
  4. Name the connection

Let’s see the above steps in more detail.

1. Select the Salesforce connector

The connection to Salesforce is done using a data connector available in Tableau. So there is no need to install any third party tool or driver.

To select the Salesforce connector, from the initial Tableau screen, click on “Connect to data”.

01 - Initial screen - Connect to Data

Then, on the left pane, under “Connect” “On a server”, click on “Salesforce”.

02 - Connect - Salesforce

This will pop up the “Salesforce Connection” dialog.

2. Enter the connection details

In the “Salesforce Connection” dialog we need to fill in the connection details to our Salesforce.com environment as follows:

  1. Username: Our Salesforce.com username.
  2. Password: Our Salesforce.com password concatenated to our Salesforce.com security token*. For example, if your password is “1234567890” and your security token is “5XEBsSpC8LcnrDaTTqUnOcikc”, you should type in “12345678905XEBsSpC8LCnrDaTTqUnOcikc”.

*: In order to obtain your Salesforce.com security token, from Salesforce you need to:

  1. Click on the “Setup” option in the drop down next to your username.
  2. Click on “Reset My Security Token” in the “Personal Setup” page, “My Personal Information” section.
  3. Click on the “Reset Security Token” button.

 

11 - Salesforce - Reset Token (Confirm)

When you have filled in the details, click on the “Connect” button.

03 - Salesforce connection - Connection Details_b

3. Choose and define the connection type to extract data

Once connected, you will need to choose how you want to extract the data from the Salesforce.com database. The three available options are:

  1. Standard
  2. Single Table
  3. Multiple Tables

3.1. Standard

The standard connection type is used to simplify the connection to the data. It includes multiple predefined business areas with preconfigured joins. The main benefit of this connection type is that the user doesn’t need to know the data model supporting the data.

Tableau comes with the following standard connections:

  • Accounts
  • Campaigns
  • Cases
  • Contacts
  • Service Contracts
  • Opportunities
  • Opportunities and Contacts
  • Opportunity Items
  • Tasks
  • Leads

In order to select a standard connection, just select the Standard option in the Connection Type radio button and select a connection. For instance, “Contacts”.

04 - Standard Connections - Contacts

3.2. Single Table

The single table connection type is used to retrieve data from one single table from the Salesforce.com database. This connection type does not allow to join tables so it brings simplicity and good performance on one side but also some limitations in terms of the data extracted.

In the example below, we are extracting data from the “Contact” table.

12 - Connection Type - Single Table

3.3. Multiple Tables

The multiple table connection type is used to retrieve data from multiple tables from the Salesforce.com database. This connection type needs the joins between the selected tables to be defined. This prevents non-technical users from using this connection type. However, it provides flexibility to technical users to connect to the data.

In the example below, we are extracting data from the “Contact” and “User” tables, with the latter acting as the Contact Owner.

The first step is to select the initial table. In our example “Contact”. In order to do that, click on “Single Table”, select the table and then click on “Multiple Tables”. You will then see the following screen:

 

13 - Connection Type - Multiple Tables 1

Click on “Add Table”.

In the pop up dialog showing up, you will find the tables that can be joined to the selected table as per the joins defined in Salesforce.

Select “User”. Then click on the tab “Join”.

14 - Connection Type - Multiple Tables 2

You will then find the possible joins based on the different roles that the “User” table can have when joining to the “Contact” table.

15 - Connection Type - Multiple Tables 3

In our example, we will select the “CreatedById” and “LastModifiedById” join clauses and will click on the “Delete” button. This needs to be done individually for each join. The remaining join is defining the join between “Contact” and “User” acting as the contact owner.

16 - Connection Type - Multiple Tables 4

Click on the “OK” button.

Then you will see the “Contact” and “User” tables selected with the join condition used to join them based on the “Owned By” relationship.

 

17 - Connection Type - Multiple Tables 5

4.Name the connection

Finally, you just need to optionally modify the connection name to be shown in the Tableau workbook. Note that this name is filled in by default depending on the connection type and its content.

Then click on the “OK” button.

05 - Salesforce Standard Connection Contacts - Click on OK

After connecting to the cloud-based Salesforce.com database, you will see the workbook workspace showing the content associated to the connection you defined.

Results

Below you can find the results based on the three connections previously defined.

1. Standard

Dimension tables included in the “Contacts” standard connection:

  • Account
  • Account Created By
  • Account Owned By
  • Contacts
  • Created By
  • Owned By

06 - Workbook - Contacts Standard Objects

 

 

2. Single Table

Dimension tables included in the “Contacts” single table connection:

  • Contact

08 - Workbook - Single Table - Contact

 

 

3. Multiple Tables

Dimension tables included in the “Contacts +” multiple table connection:

  • Contact
  • User (Owned By)

09 - Workbook - Multiple Tables - Contacts + Users

Conclusion

Connecting to our Salesforce.com environment is now a very simple task. Even non-technical users can define the connection to the data and start exploring it. On the other side, technical users will be able to define their own complex queries by joining non-standard tables in a customised environment. After you’ve done that, you will get the benefits of having real time Salesforce.com data in Tableau, giving you the ability to do data discovery in this cloud-based environment.

Have you connected Salesforce to Tableau or any other BI tool? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience with Salesforce and the benefits you had from connecting it to a BI system.

Tableau 8.2: New Features

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Good news for all Tableau fans! The new release, version 8.2, is now available!

We have been selected to participate in the testing program of Tableau 8.2 Beta. Lucky you to be reading this article, as you will have the privilege to read about some of the new features being included in the new release.

In this article I’m introducing you some of the hottest functionalities in Tableau 8.2:

  1. Visual Connection to Databases
  2. Story Telling Object
  3. Updated Maps
  4. Tableau Server Improvements
  5. Tableau Desktop for Mac OS

Keep reading and get as excited as I was when going through them for the first time. It’s worth spending 5’ reading this article. You will not regret that.

1. Visual Connection to Databases

This new feature will greatly simplify how we are currently building data extract queries. It’s a completely redesigned data connectivity view that allows the designer to build different types of joins (inner, left, right, full outer) between tables in a visual and very intuitive way.

The steps to follow are:

  1. Select the data source: Nothing has changed here. You must select the data source type and then fill in the appropriate details to connect to the selected data source.
  2. Select the tables: Drag and drop the selected table into the canvas on the right.
  3. Set the joins: Click on the joins and set the join type as well as the matching columns.
  4. Verify if the joins are correct in the Preview: Check the query results to validate the joins.
  5. Click on “Go to Worksheet” to start working on the new analysis: Once you have done all the above, click on this button to start designing your analysis.

Note that you will be able to choose the connection type. The options are:

  • Live: Queries will be done to the data source to retrieve the data.
  • Extract: Queries will be done to an extract of the data instead of the real data source.

tableau1

Below you can find two screenshots so that you can compare this functionality between Tableau 8.1 and 8.2:

tableau2

tableau3

Data connection version 8.1                                            Data connection version 8.2

Having said this, news in data connection do not finish here. There are improvements in the following connections sources too:

  • Microsoft Excel and Text files: Improved detection of field types, larger amount of columns, Time type seconds recognition, percentages as number recognition…
  • SAP HANA: Variables and input parameters.
  • OAuth: Support for SalesForce.com, Google Analytics and Google BigQuery
  • Google BigQuery: Native support provided
  • Splunk: Improved connection.

 

2.Story Telling object

Story Telling provides the user a brand new experience in data analysis as it guides the user through different analysis following a predefined path.

The predefined path is defined by the Story Points, a sequence of steps that the user can walk through as he or she explores the data. However the user is not forced to go through every single step to get to the analysis he or she is most interested in. The user can jump into that step without the need of visualising the previous ones.

Each Story Point or step in the Story Telling is showing the user an analysis or even an entire dashboard.

Proceed to the following steps in order to create a Story with Story Telling:

  • Create a new Story

Add a new Story by clicking on “Story” > “New Story” in the Menu bar.

tableau4

You can also create a new Story by right clicking on the Analysis/Dashboards/Stories tabs and selecting “New Story”.

tableau5

  • Embed sheets and dashboards into Story boards

The sheets and dashboards are displayed as on the left pane of the board as in the previous versions of Tableau. To insert them into the Story, just drag & drop them into the right pane.

tableau6

  • Add annotations

The analysis won’t lose neither the annotations, highlights nor filter capabilities once embedded in the Story board. On top of that, we have additional description capabilities to add to the Story board to emphasize important findings.

tableau7

  • Print the stories in PDF

Click on “File” > “Print as PDF” and you will save the Story Telling object as PDF showing each step in a separate page of the PDF document.

  • Show in full screen

Click on “Window” > “Presentation Mode” or press F7 to show the Story Telling object in full screen as it can be done with dashboards.

 

3. Updated Maps

Tableau is improving the visualization in maps, one of the most powerful capabilities of the product.

The data content used to create the maps is including the latest set of data from OpenStreetMap. This engine allows you to zoom down into 16-steps of zoom, WORLWIDE!

You can check the visual impact of such changes by comparing the screenshots below:

tableau8

tableau9

Maps version 8.1                                                                          Maps version 8.2

tableau10 tableau11

Maps version 8.1 with 3 levels of zoom                                      Maps version 8.2 with 3 levels of zoom

4.Tableau Server improvements

There are many improvements on the server side, mainly focused in simplifying the server administration. Some of these improvements are:

  • Easier Log Access
  • New Log Format
  • Change Content Ownership
  • Provision Sites with Site Export/Import
  • Server APIs for Administrators
  • Responsive Marks
  • Cross-version compatibility
  • Disable Web Authoring per Site
  • Support for Multiple IP Addresses

5. Tableau Desktop for Mac OS

The user base of Tableau is made of a heterogeneous group of people. And guess what? Some of them are using Mac OS based computers!!

From version 8.2 they will be able to analyse and discover data using Tableau directly from their preferred platform: Mac OS. The old days of having another computer or even a virtual machine running Windows to be able to work with Tableau Desktop are gone.

Here are the highlights of this improvement:

  • All the Tableau products (Reader, Public and Desktop) will all be available for Mac OS.
  • The Mac OS version will support high resolution Retina displays and will use the same files (TWB, TWBX, TDE, and TDS) that are supported on the Windows version of Tableau Desktop.
  • The Tableau users could use the same license for the Tableau Desktop on Windows and Mac. According to Tableau, the installation on Mac OS will be plug and play: Install Tableau Desktop on your Mac and activate it with your existing license.

From the Mac OS lovers I can only expect to hear a word… “FINALLY!“

 

Conclusion

As you can see, most of the new features improve visualization, something that identifies Tableau as a data discovery tool. Remember that this post is based on Tableau 8.2 Beta version 4, so it’s sensible to changes until the final version is released.

I hope this blog has helped you to get a better idea of how the new version looks like and how useful it will be in your future data discovery and analysis. What are your favorite features of Tableau? Do you think the new options bring value to your Tableau visualizations? Tell us your opinion in a comment below this blog post!

For more information, feel free to contact us at: www.clearpeaks.com

Oracle Discoverer De-Support: how do you visualise your future BI and reporting?

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If you are still using Oracle Discoverer for some or all of your reporting and BI requirements, you are probably struggling to deliver on user demands for better mobile/tablet access and richer information visualisation to improve interpretation, understanding and informed decision-making.

Also, it’s not new news that Oracle Discoverer is on its way out.  It ceased to be Oracle’s strategic BI toolset as long ago as 2006, when OBIEE came to the fore as Oracle’s new flagship BI platform.  Premier Support ceases in June 2014, and Oracle recommends all customers to migrate away from Discoverer by June 2015.

Many customers invested considerably in Discoverer prior to the release of OBIEE, and through challenging economic times have sweated the asset rather than undertake the transition to a more state-of-the-art platform.

Now that Discoverer is moving into its final stages of life, it is time to revisit the strategy for current Discoverer customers.

Why should I be migrating away from Discoverer?

From a business viewpoint, you are already well behind the curve in terms of the BI capability offered to you by Discoverer – and that could easily mean that you are falling behind your competitors who have gained the edge of working with newer, more able technology.

The releases of Discoverer around 2006, including Discoverer for OLAP, were actually pretty good at the time and brought it to a comparable level with other products of the day.  But just look around at what else has changed since then in the IT world – mobile devices, social media, advanced visualisation, big data – so that today, even if Discoverer is doing what it says on the tin, it is not equipped to move forward in any way.  Many end-user capabilities that are considered “must have” today are just not possible with Discoverer; indeed, even in its heyday, whilst Discoverer was a good workhorse, it never did score particularly good ratings for usability.

The last “features” release of Discoverer was 11gR1 in June 2009, and the terminal release of bug fixes and minor features was 11.1.1.7.0.  According to Oracle’s latest Statement of Direction (March 2014), there will be no further releases.  Premier Support ceases in June 2014, and Oracle recommends all customers to migrate away from Discoverer by June 2015.

A common objection from some customers is that they have a large estate of Discoverer reports and it would be far too major, complex and costly a task to replace them all.  Some customers have many hundreds of Discoverer reports, so at first glance it may indeed look like a huge task and not worth the cost.

However, a closer look may reveal that:

  • Actually, a large percentage of the “hundreds of reports” is redundant now – many of them are old versions or multiple temporary re-hashes of the same report.  So it may be that only tens of reports are still fit for active purpose.
  • Many of the reports are being used solely as a staging post to extract data to Excel for wrestling into shape for the final output – this is clearly an inefficient, error-prone and costly (in human time) process
  • There is a now cottage-industry of Excel (or other tools) producing newer report requirements that were not built into the Discoverer suite because it was not meeting the business need.  Again this could be costly, slow and error-prone.  Maybe the IT department thinks that Discoverer is still delivering what is required, but the business has moved on and may even have purchased other BI tools
  • Every time the underlying systems are upgraded, the whole Discoverer suite has to be re-tested and modified – Discoverer does not have the same metadata capabilities as OBIEE.  Many customers implemented Discoverer direct against transactional systems or eBusiness Suite without a data warehouse, meaning that every change to an underlying database could mean major rewrites of the Discoverer reporting suite.  The cost of a few iterations of this could outweigh the cost of replacement.

What do the changes to available Support mean?

When Premier Support ends (June 2014), the main change is that Certification with most new third party products/versions and new Oracle products ceases.  You can choose to keep the rest of the available Support features by paying an additional fee for Extended Support (free to June 2015).

If you choose not to opt for Extended Support, or in any case from June 2017, then you are on Sustaining Support.  This provides updates, fixes, security alerts, critical patch updates and upgrade tools/scripts for pre-existing issues only – not for anything new that occurs.  Also, there is no further certification against other Oracle or third-party products.  Basically you could maintain the software as-is, but if you were to change any of your source systems, database versions, etc, then you would be running the risk that if it broke, you would have no Support redress.

You are maybe planning on moving forward in other areas – e.g. an R12 Upgrade to eBusiness Suite, or migrating your database to 12c.  If you have any such major changes planned, it makes even more sense to reconsider whether Discoverer remains fit for purpose or whether it is now time to look at its replacement.  If you plan to move to the Fusion edition of eBusiness Suite, BI Foundation Suite becomes a pre-requisite.

Oracle specifically recommends that you should migrate by June 2015.

What should I replace it with?

Conventional wisdom, and Oracle recommendation, says:

  • Migrate the licenses to Oracle BI Foundation Suite or OBIEE.  There may be a partial rebate on the costs if you have a current Support contract, but this depends on versions and needs to be checked with your Oracle Account Manager (ClearPeaks can facilitate and advise on this)
  • For each Discoverer report, consider whether it is more appropriate to replace with Answers (the OBIEE analytic tool) or BI Publisher (the OBIEE tool for more structured reporting)
  • If you are an eBusiness Suite customer with packaged Discoverer content, replace with Oracle BI Applications

However, there are further considerations in making your decisions:

  • If you run direct against source databases – e.g. eBusiness Suite – would you benefit from changing to a datamart/warehouse approach to both future-proof your reporting and open up your data for analysis by making it available in a more digestible form for business users?
  • If your Discoverer “reports” are in reality being used for data extraction to another BI toolset, should you replace this manually intensive process with a proper ETL tool such as Oracle Data Integrator?
  • If your user base is small, could you migrate to the less costly BI Standard Edition One? (there are restrictions on this product so you would need advice)
  • If the business users have already moved on and adopted – in part – an alternative BI tool, does it make sense to enhance it to an Enterprise approach and incorporate the Discoverer content into the chosen BI toolset?
  • Would the use of a discovery-based BI tool fit your requirements better, or complement your more structured reporting?

ClearPeaks specialises not only in OBIEE/Foundation Suite, Oracle BI Applications and Endeca, but also in leading third-party BI products, so we are well-placed to provide advice on your best approach.

How should I go about it?

It makes sense to consult the expertise of a specialist BI implementer since, having waited this long before migrating, you will want to get it right!

ClearPeaks can help you to review your current estate of Discoverer reports with a thorough Health-Check and analysis of usage, together with capturing some of today’s aspirational requirements of the business rather than necessarily just doing a like-for-like replacement.  We can assist with licensing considerations, reviewing alternative replacement strategies, and making sure that you get the best fit at the most acceptable cost, with a solution that will hopefully live for as long as your Discoverer solution did!

We can help you to plan the migration, train appropriate IT staff / power users in the new technologies, run and test the migration scripts if appropriate (although in many cases it is more effective to use the old report as a design template and rebuild from scratch), and generally assist you through the implementation.  Or if you prefer –and are all busy with the day-job – we can take the problem away and build your new solution on one of our servers then commission it when ready to switch over.

Just give us a call and we will be delighted to help assess what is right for you!

A picture, or 1000 words?

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If you are reading this article, it is probable that you, too, are working in the rapidly evolving world of corporate performance management, business intelligence, data science, data management, or are closely associated to it.  You will be acutely aware of the unprecedented hype and interest surrounding Big Data and will be asking yourselves how your organisation can profit from the complex mash-up of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.

You will have heard that data is the new oil, the new high value corporate resource which, when discovered, explored, processed and refined, will be the fuel to drive your business ahead of your competitors for years to come.  But keeping abreast with the volume, variety and velocity of Big Data is only of value if you have tools and techniques to convert it into a useable asset, and that is where today’s data discovery and visualisation platforms play their part.

As a regular reader of The Guardian, a UK-based national newspaper, I follow their “Data” section, which helps me keep abreast of how data is used in solving problems across broad spectrums of life, industry and politics. But what is especially interesting to me in this section is how data is presented through high impact visual graphics to create compelling and enlightening stories for their readers.

The guardian

As little as 10 years ago, data visualisation was, in most part, restricted to national media stations, advertising gurus and graphical designer types, who would work with data analysts to convert spreadsheet-style input data into more appealing infographics for mass consumption through TV and national press.

And now, just a decade on, our appetite for highly visual information has dramatically diversified into the mass market of corporate consumers – from executive ‘C’ level managers down the ranks to entry level analysts.  The era of business storytelling and infographics is rapidly edging out the classic tabular report, pivot table and pie chart culture of the 80s and 90s.  Business intelligence tools are now expected to predict behaviour, track patterns and trends, highlight relativity and performance, all in one single interactive dashboard!

From a data perspective, I am sure you will share our sentiment that we are facing a revolution.

No longer is data the fenced territory of IT departments and database administrator types, but actually that data becomes high octane in nature when put into the hands of the business people who can really act on it, take critical decisions on it and who really understand it.  IT clearly have a key role in provisioning and governing business data, ensuring consistency, query performance , platform stability, security etc., but leaving the discovery and analysis in the eager and empowered hands of the business users who can make it work for the good of the business.

Working with industry leading information visualisation and discovery products, namely Tableau and Oracle Endeca, we at ClearPeaks are perfectly positioned to advise you - as an end user or BI/IT Manager - in this fast-paced, rapidly evolving world of big data, data blending and storytelling through powerful visualisation.  We can empower your business influencers and decision makers with rich functionality to detect patterns, trends and business metrics which otherwise would have lain undiscovered in the depths of your corporate data lakes.  We will coach and facilitate your business users to play and discover, to work creatively in order to present data in engaging ways for their audience, and most importantly,  help them excavate and reap tangible business value from their data.

If sight is our most efficient human sense (capable of interpreting visual information at network speeds), then business information presented in visually impacting formats must surely be a winning formula for ensuring corporate performance is monitored, managed and acted upon for optimal business benefit.

If you would like to get the benefit out of exploring your data, contact us and we will show you how to do it.

Data Discovery and Analysis: making the best of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery

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With the acquisition of Endeca in 2011, Oracle enhanced their already powerful Business Analytics products portfolio with Information Discovery capabilities, potentially allowing customers to analyse structured and unstructured data within the same framework.

Version 3.1 of the tool, released in November 2013, introduced new features such as Data Mash-up from multiple sources, easier and deeper unstructured analysis tools available directly to the business users, a tighter integration with the Oracle BI platform, Enterprise Class Data Discovery and the Web Acquisition Toolkit, a crawler to harvest and analyse website content.

Where, therefore, is Endeca positioned now within the context of Business Intelligence, and how should it be used to make the best of its capabilities? Can it be used as an alternative to OBIEE or other traditional, established Business Intelligence tools? How does its web crawling tool fare against the existing competition? To answer these questions and more, we have put Endeca on the test bench and saw it in action.

In today’s business landscape, analysis of unstructured and large volume data (Big Data) is morphing from a nice-to-have task for cutting-edge, BI-savvy companies to an important driver for business processes in enterprises everywhere. Customer data stored and displayed in social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are virtual gold for any marketing department, while sensors capture millions of snapshots on a daily basis that can be used to monitor manufacturing processes and improve their performance. It is not difficult, therefore, to see why Oracle considers Endeca a strategic investment and a key component of its Business Analysis product stack.

In the following paragraphs of this article you will find our honest, no-frills opinion on Endeca Information Discovery 3.1, its new features and our suggestions for making the best of it within your enterprise BI stack.

Integration with Oracle Business Intelligence

One of the most recurring complaints from early Endeca adopters was the lack of integration with the Oracle Common EIM (Enterprise Information Model). As often happens with recent acquisitions, the first Oracle-branded versions of Endeca – starting with Version 2.3 in April 2012 - were mostly a revamp of the existing Latitude tool. Endeca felt like, and actually was, a stand-alone data discovery tool with its own data processing engine and front-end studio.

This has radically improved with Version 3.1. Oracle BI is now a native data source for Endeca and users can now create their Discovery Applications sourcing data from OBI with a two-step easy process. Moreover, the Integration Knowledge Module for Oracle Data Integrator now enables the latter ETL tool to load data directly into the Endeca Server.

endeca

There are still margins for improvement, of course. Administration tasks are still performed separately from the rest of the Oracle EIM architecture. Endeca Server does not interface with WebLogic and Enterprise Manager, core of the Oracle Middleware. We would also like to see CloverETL better integrated and possibly merged with ODI, to avoid splitting the overall data workflow and transformation logic in two separate tools. We see a lot of potential in using Endeca Server as a data source to the OBIEE repository, capability that is currently limited to BI Publisher.

We like, however, the concept of e-BS Extensions for Endeca. Based on pre-defined views in Oracle e-Business Suite, the Extensions consist of a set of Studio applications with pre-built content for a broad range of horizontal functions, from Supply Chain Management (Discrete and Process Manufacturing, Cost Management, Warehouse Management, Inventory,…) to Human Capital Management, Asset Management and more. The good level of integration within e-BS makes them a light-weight, easy-to-implement alternative to Oracle BI Analytic Applications module. Like for its bigger brother, however, the customization effort of the pre-built dashboards content required to be successfully used remains a question mark.

Self Service Analysis (Data Mash-up, Provisioning, Applications)

These are the topics that most excited our team when testing the new Endeca capabilities. The range of sources and databases available for data mash-up has been broadened, covering both databases as well as semi-structured data in JSON format and the Applications look and feel has been improved with new visualization options, but in our opinion the most compelling feature of Endeca is the new Provisioning and Applications creation process.

The workflow to create a new Discovery Application is now based on a wizard so user-friendly that we believe the classic buzz-phrase “Business users creating own applications! No more IT overhead!” is not a chimaera anymore but a serious possibility. Yes, establishing the Provisioning Service, connecting to the data source (JDBC for example) and configuring it might require some hand-holding, but once it is done, the wizard simplifies and streamlines the proper Application creation tasks, allowing the business user to perform its data discovery in autonomy.

Also, it is a fact that Endeca Applications look good. Definitely good, actually better than OBIEE dashboards and we can see why business users are usually impressed more by the former than the latter during product demos.

selfservice_endeca - Copy

Web Acquisition Toolkit

“A tool within a tool within a tool” is how our testing team has defined the new web crawling tool embedded in Endeca.

The toolkit looks and feels separate from the Endeca Server (it actually is) and features its own Design Studio where crawling rules and workflows can be defined, organized and scheduled, adding a third layer of data processing complexity: from Design Studio to CloverETL to ODI. In fact, Web Acquisition Toolkit does not use Endeca Server as a target, so a third party ETL tool is necessary to move data accordingly.

However, even if right now there are cheaper and more powerful options on the market, the tool does its job and – if Oracle continues investing in product integration, which we think is very likely – has the potential to become a very interesting feature of future Endeca versions.

wat_interface_endeca - Copy

Best fit for Endeca?

Wrapping up, we can safely say that Endeca is evolving into a compelling component of the Business Intelligence stack for enterprises looking to enable their users to perform rapid-fire data discovery (up to a certain extent, of course – data management, especially in complex enterprise environments, will still be required).

The stand-alone nature of Endeca architecture is a weakness but also a strength, allowing Endeca to be purchased and installed independently from the rest of the Oracle BI stack. However, we can see how e-BS Extensions make Endeca extremely appealing to Oracle ERP existing users.

Could Endeca, therefore, be considered as an alternative to OBIEE (and Oracle BI Applications) as the enterprise Business Intelligence tool? We do not think so. Although its Applications visualization capabilities are very powerful, the best fit for Endeca is to complement OBIEE. While the solid back-end (repository metadata layers, reports and dashboards catalog) of the latter provides corporate reporting in a structured and organised way, Endeca’s real power lies in enabling the business user to individually analyze data patterns on the fly: mix and match different data sources and quickly create new applications to find out the answers they need.

To enable all of the above, Self-service provisioning is where the strength of Endeca shows up. Web sources, unstructured information as flat files can be mashed together, and setting up and configuring another provisioning service to mix it up with the rest is a very easy task.

We at ClearPeaks will keep on the outlook for future enhancements and features of Oracle Endeca Information Discovery. If in the meantime you want to know more about Endeca and how it could add value to your enterprise, contact us.

 

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